How should clinicians rehabilitate patients after ACL reconstruction? A systematic review of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) with a focus on quality appraisal


Hott A, Brox JI, Pripp AH,

Objectives To summarise recommendations and appraise the quality of international clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) for rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction.
Design Systematic review of CPGs (PROSPERO number: CRD42017020407).
Data sources Pubmed, EMBASE, Cochrane, SPORTDiscus, PEDro and grey literature databases were searched up to 30 September 2018.
Eligibility criteria English-language CPGs on rehabilitation following ACL reconstruction that
used systematic search of evidence to formulate recommendations.
Methods We followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines to report the systematic review. Two appraisers used
the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) II instrument to report comprehensiveness, consistency and quality of CPGs. We summarised recommendations for rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction.
Results Six CPGs with an overall median AGREE II total score of 130 points (out of 168) and median overall quality of 63% were included. One CPG had an overall score below the 50% (poor quality score) and two CPGs scored above 80% (higher quality score). The lowest domain score was ’applicability’ (can clinicians implement this in practice?) (29%) and the highest ’scope and purpose’ (78%) and ’clarity of presentation’ (75%). CPGs recommended immediate knee mobilisation and strength/neuromuscular training. Early full weight-bearing exercises, early open and closed kinetic-chain exercises, cryotherapy and neuromuscular electrostimulation may be used according individual circumstances. The CPGs recommend against continuous passive motion and functional bracing.
Conclusion The quality of the CPGs in ACL postoperative rehabilitation was good, but all CPGs showed poor applicability. Immediate knee mobilisation and strength/neuromuscular training should be used. Continuous passive motion and functional bracing should be eschewed.

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